As with most herbs and spices, Peppermint (Mentha x pipertia) has ties to the ancient cultures of Egypt, Rome, and Greece. Uses varied from perfumery to medicinal. Peppermint even holds a place in Greek Mythology.
The story goes that on the banks of the Cocytus river, one of the five rivers of Hades, which runs partially underground, lived a water nymph called Minthe. Minthe was beautiful and used all her powers of beauty to seduce Hades.
One day the wife of Hades, queen Persephone, catches them together and is overcome with jealousy. To punish them, she turns Minthe into a weed. But such was the God-like beauty, sweetness, and fair aroma of Minthe that even as a weed these remained. This was the creation of mint.
Peppermint was a prized commodity often involved in trades and exchanges. Biblical references to the tithing of herbs and spices such as mint suggest its value and widespread use. (1)
Generally, peppermint is thought to be a hybrid between water mint and spearmint. Though it was widely cultivated throughout Europe and North America, it was not until the late 1600s and early 1700s that peppermint was named as a distinct species. In 1721 it became an official part of the London Pharmacopeia.
Today Peppermint leaf and its oil are listed in the national pharmacopeias of Austria, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Russia, and Switzerland, and Europe. (2)
About Peppermint Essential Oil
Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) is a perennial plant that grows to about 3 feet tall. It has small white or purple flowers and leaves with serrated edges. It is native to Europe but today is cultivated all over the globe usually in moist temperate regions. Since it is a hybrid, it is a sterile plant, and reproduction is done via cloning (clippings).
Peppermint is one of the essential oils most used for medicinal purposes. Consequently, it is mostly grown for its oil. To ensure maximum yield, the harvest is done just before the plant blooms and in the morning hours. (3) (4)
Also present in lesser amounts, but not less important are:
Authors Note – The above composition information may be laborious, dull, and a bit over the top for this type of presentation. However, the point is to deliver a reminder of the chemical and often complex nature of essential oils. Please use essential oils with respect and caution. If unsure about using any essential oil, please contact your physician or certified essential oil practitioner before use.
Properties: Analgesic, Antibacterial, Antiemetic, Anti-inflammatory, Antispasmodic, Antiviral, Astringent, Cephalic, Cholagogue, Circulatory Stimulant, Digestive
Because of the complexity of Peppermint essential oil, it is well suited to aid humans with many different uncomfortable issues.
- Relieves pain of muscles and joints
- Assists digestion – Intestinal cramping, nausea, sour stomach
- Eases airway congestion in the chest
- Lowers blood pressure
- Improves circulation and blood flow
- Aids in detoxification (Cholagogue)
- Relieves pain from headaches and migraines (Cephalic)
- Increases mental clarity (Cephalic)
- May promote hair growth (7)
- Repel Bugs (8)
- Adds flavor to food
AIA Internal Use Statement
AIA does not endorse internal therapeutic use (oral, vaginal, or rectal) of essential oils unless recommended by a health care practitioner trained at an appropriate clinical level. An appropriate level of training must include chemistry, anatomy, diagnostics, physiology, formulation guidelines, and safety issues regarding each specific internal route (oral, vaginal, or rectal). Please refer to the AIA Safety Guidelines for essential oil use.
How to Use Peppermint Essential Oil
Diffuse – Place 10 to 15 drops in a diffuser. Diffuse 15 minutes every two hours during the day.
Inhale – Inhale from bottle or lid 2 to 3 times a day, Place 2 drops on a cotton ball and inhale, Rub 1 to 2 drops on hand, hold near the face (avoid touching face), and inhale.
Mist – Add 30 to 40 drops to a half cup of water. Shake vigorously before each use and apply lightly to areas of concern. Avoid getting it in the eyes.
Rub – Place 4 to 6 drops in one ounce (2 TBS) of massage cream or oil. Apply to areas of concern.